I have become history.
It’s a strange thing to see a movie about something you remember when it was news. It reminds you just how quickly time moves, how far into the past things that are still fresh in your memory are, and how long you’ve hung around the planet.
We went to see Bohemian Rhapsody tonight.
For those of you considering it, you should go. It’s really well done. Whoever did the casting should get a medal, and of course it is full of music. Very few groups of the last half century consistently put out music that grabbed you and made you want to sing along the way Queen did. There’s a reason why they are remembered when so many of the bands of their era are not. There’s a reason why the title track of the film made the charts in three different decades.
One of my favorite memes of late is a Tumblr thread that starts with the question, “I’m not saying Freddie Mercury WAS a siren, but have you ever heard anyone NOT sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody?” It ends with, “I have no memory of learning it, do you?”
The film opens and closes at Live Aid, the mammoth rock concert in the summer of 1985 that raised money to help fight the Ethiopian famine that year.
I remember Live Aid. I even knew people who went to it. Some of it was held at Wembley Stadium in London, but the rest of it was at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, the old brick horseshoe where they held the Army-Navy game every year back in the day. It was maybe ten or fifteen miles from my front door and I had a lot of friends who were more into concerts than I was. Some of them were there.
I had a couple of jobs that summer.
One was at a 7/11, which I really enjoyed, strangely enough. A convenience store is the definition of feeding time at the human zoo, and if you enjoy people-watching you can’t ask for a better set-up. You see a lot of things, some of which you will never unsee no matter how hard you try. I would also sift through the register looking for old coins. The manager didn’t care as long as he got face value for them, and I ended up with some interesting finds before I went back to college for my sophomore year.
The other was at a Lutheran deaconess community, which for lack of a better description is kind of like a Protestant convent only not as strict. A friend of mine worked there and knew that they needed another person to share her job, so she recommended me. Sometimes we’d see each other in passing, which was nice. The job was basically to serve as the receptionist, phone operator, and general dogsbody. I’d sit in the little white-painted room behind a desk and do paperwork or just read my book (my friend introduced me to Kurt Vonnegut that summer, and I am eternally grateful to her for that). When the phone rang I would answer, find out who they wanted, and then plug the 3/8” jack into the old-fashioned 1920s-style switchboard to connect the call to the right person. I also had to set the table for meals, which involved a crash course on the proper placement of forks that I never did quite master.
It was a fun job, really. There was one Sister there who would sit and talk with me. She was younger than the average post-retirement age there – maybe about my age now, come to think of it, maybe a couple years younger – and I think she found me amusing. We got into a discussion about something abstract once and she asked me, “Is that like a Platonic ideal?” and I said, “Well, not quite” and she laughed about that for the rest of the summer.
I was in that little office the day of Live Aid.
We had it on the whole time I was there. It was good music. I probably heard the Queen set live. They did it almost entire for the movie.
I’m old enough now that things I remember are history.
I’m old enough now that things I remember are being retold as movies.
It is a strange thing to be this old and still, in your mind, be sitting at a small desk with a copy of Slapstick, listening to a concert and waiting for the phone to ring.